Wales’ next First Minister should embrace the Constitution Commission’s findings
Ben Gwalchmai, Labour for an Independent Wales
The report, the news, the final flourish of the Government backed Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales may have been released on a day when other, awful news from Port Talbot buried it but for many of us, the report still burns bright.
As one of the organisations who submitted written evidence to the Comisiwn, we in Labour for an Independent Wales have been pouring over it since its release. We want to convey our huge congratulations and thanks to every member of the Comisiwn.
For the good of the Welsh Labour membership and for all the people of Wales, we’d like to take this opportunity to tease out some important points that the Welsh Labour leadership candidates can heed.
Firstly, will the leadership candidates commit – fully and unambiguously – to the 10 recommendations in the Comisiwn’s report? We would argue it’s a no-brainer; i.e. you’d have to have no brain if you didn’t.
Those 10 aren’t ‘enhanced devolution’, they’re just what the report says we need if devolution isn’t to fail. So let’s all agree that they’re already agreed.
Secondly, the report calls for a great many ‘expert panels’ – here’s where we disagree. Though we appreciate democracy takes time and evidence building is important: we have enough evidence that Wales is poor.
Our people are tired. For every ‘expert advisory panel’ recommendation, we want to see action instead. Crown Estate? Act, join the cross-party campaign with Beth Winter and Liz Saville-Roberts. Democratic innovation? Implement it in our schools and our communities quickly.
For any of the report’s recommendations to happen and happen with a positive effect, the leader themselves must fully support the Further Devolution of the Party Rule Book motion that passed at Welsh Labour Conference in 2023.
This is because only when the leader discusses and prioritises it, will it come to pass. Only when Welsh Labour has the political and processual freedom to make distinct policy can it enact policy difference within government. Only then can we get more Devolution done, done well, and done well for Wales.
As the part of our party that’s most focused on constitutional questions, their pledges to ‘strengthen devolution’ still leave us with a few questions for the leadership candidates:
- What specific actions & strategies will you take to strengthen & secure devolution for the future?
- Do you agree that Wales should have the same Devolved powers as Scotland?
- Do you stand by the current Welsh Government’s commitment to a UK of ‘4 equal nations’? If so, how would you leverage your position & the levers of Welsh Government to deliver it?
These are all much harder to answer. Maybe they’re biding their time and maybe they’re naively holding out hope for Westminster to come to the rescue. Maybe. The membership, however, isn’t the public and both candidates would curry a lot of favour if the membership knew exactly how they plan to strengthen devolution. We look forward to finding out.
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